Response to "A Solemn"

Noteworthy: In the following “Solemn Appeal”, No Scripture is cited by the authors as a basis for the conclusions drawn …!!! It is my belief, however, that the Bible should be our only rule of faith and practice., for “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17) The statements in bold type below are my response statements to certain points made in the article - “A Solemn Appeal”.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We, the undersigned, address this letter to our fellow believers in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We humbly share our vision of God’s purposes of redemption. For too long we have listened to the cries of hurt and despair from those in our churches who are lesbian and gay. We can no longer remain silent, but are compelled to speak the words of present truth we believe God has given us. It is not our desire to be divisive or stir up controversy; we see our role as redemptive and calling each of us to a higher level of compassion and understanding.

We are a people of faith, concerned about each one who responds to the call of God’s Spirit and seeks to follow its promptings. We tremble before God as we see the rejection and exclusion of our Adventist lesbian sisters and gay brothers by many of our churches, recalling the painful experiences of other minority groups in our denominational history. This exclusion falls far short of the love and inclusion our Savior demonstrated to all.

1) “Present Truth” is not something one can conjure up on his own, but rather must be based upon a plain “Thus saith the Lord”, “To the law and to the testimony”, and seems to be well summed up in the words of Amos: “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12), and in the 3 Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14, and in the message of the Angel of Revelation 18.

2) The higher level of compassion and understanding expressed in this appeal equates to “License” rather than a truly redemptive love which inspires contrition, confession, repentance, and submission to the transforming power of God.

3) Classifying homosexuals as a minority group is to dismiss its Biblical status as a “Sin issue”. The Bible condemns no one for being Black, White, Hispanic, Female, Male, Retarded, Crippled, etc. But the Bible is very explicit about homosexuality being an abomination. As Christians, we do homosexuals no favor by labeling them as a minority, and, therefore, privileged class. Homosexuals are sinners in need of their Savior just like any other sinner and anyone else struggling with abomination issues as listed in the Bible: adultery, lying, pride, cross-dressing, etc.

4) Our Savior never “included” in His circle of disciples open sinners who justified, or rationalized their sinful behavior. The very term “disciple” means one who enters into a life of discipline, following after the lifestyle of the “master”. In the case of the Christian, that means submitting to the transforming power of that Master Who declares His grace to be sufficient for you and me and the homosexual as well: Grace being “the divine influence working upon the heart and reflecting in the life.” (Greek Dictionary)

We believe that God is calling our church in North America to a thorough study of all the issues related to homosexuality, including current scientific research; better and more redemptive ways of reading, in the light of the Gospel’s “good news”, those few biblical texts that refer to same-sex behavior; and a sincere effort to walk in the shoes of those of our neighbors and our fellow Christians who live with a homosexual orientation.

1) It is written, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1) We are counseled to “Call sin by its right name.” That is a very redemptive way to deal with the homosexual issue. The Bible gives the remedy for “Sin”, but not for some “acceptable alternative lifestyle”, genetic disorder, etc. And the Bible is very explicit about how God thinks and feels about homosexuality. We must be careful lest we end up “wresting the Scriptures to our own damnation…”

We affirm that those who disagree with us have experienced the love of God and seek to take their faith seriously. However we, too, take our faith seriously and have experienced God’s love. We believe that our church needs to engage in dialog with our lesbian sisters and gay brothers; too often the gay and lesbian community has been excluded from discussions relating to homosexual orientation. Furthermore, we believe that as God’s Spirit enlightens us, we will be led to welcome in our congregations every person seeking God, and rejoice in the gifts each person brings to His service, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and racial or cultural origin.

1) Here again, equating perversion with racial and cultural origins is like comparing apples and oranges: There are many gifts that can be brought into church fellowship by black people, and members of all ethnic groups. But what does homosexuality (a perversion of God’s creation of sexuality) have to offer the church? Homosexuality is not a gift. Sinners who are holding on to their sins can only bring sin into the church. Sin not repented of can offer no good thing to the church communion. It is true that homosexuals may be very gifted, talented, friendly, loving, cheerful and happy. But Satan can use all that to bring corruption into the church and to compromise its effectiveness in ministry to the world.

2) If we allow homosexuality (sexual orientation) and gender identity (male/female confusion) to bring their “gifts” to God’s service, then where do we draw the line? What about Pedophiles, Polygamists, and those involved in Incest? If we endorse one perversion of sexuality, then why not others…?

We trust you, our Adventist family, to listen faithfully as we share our journey and our resulting convictions with you:

Current scientific evidence supports our conviction that, just as with heterosexuals, a homosexual orientation is determined before birth and/or very soon after, by a complex mix of biological and environmental factors over which a person has no control. To describe people who find themselves attracted to the same sex as sinful, contradicts not only science but the scriptural principles of truth, justice and compassion taught and demonstrated by Jesus.

1) Only some scientific evidence supports this conviction, and that evidence appears to be biased. There is much scientific evidence that does not support this conviction.

2) Even if this statement were true about current scientific evidence, all are born with sinful tendencies that must be overcome. Why should the homosexual be the only one who can cling to his tendencies when the entire message of the gospel is about transformation, being born again, to new motives, new tastes, new tendencies!? (2 Corinthians 5:17; RH 4/12/1892; Letter 105, 1893)

While so-called “change” programs may be able to help a few homosexual individuals learn to repress their innate attractions to those of the same sex, we do not believe that a denial of reality is a healthy or honest way to live. There is no evidence that one’s sexual orientation can be changed, outside of a miracle, and thousands have prayed for this miracle over many years without ever receiving it. Therefore, we believe homosexuals should be accepted and loved in our congregations just as they are: sinners saved by grace, like all of us.

1) It is written, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

2) The work of redemption and salvation FROM sin IS a miraculous work. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And we can be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:13, 1:6)

3) “Sinners saved…” From what…? From SIN, transgression of the law, disobedience… (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 3:4)

4) “By grace…” And “grace” is…: Divine, omnipotent, transforming power, “the divine influence working upon the heart and reflecting in the life” (Gr. Dictionary)

5) Are we to accept into our congregations and membership those who openly transgress the law of God in regards to all the other commandments? Or just the 7th one? What about sex addicts, adulterers, unmarried heterosexual lovers, pedophiles, polygamists, and other perversions of sexual behavior as God intended it to be? Again, where do we redraw the line when once we alter it…? And based upon what authority…?

Along with our Seventh-day Adventist family, we do take seriously the guidance God has given us through the Bible. However, we have carefully studied those biblical texts that are traditionally interpreted as forbidding same-sex activity, and join with those scholars who have found that they do not address homosexuality as we understand it today. We respect those who, in good faith, hold different conclusions, and we trust that they, in turn, will respect the integrity with which we have journeyed to reach our understanding.

1) And who are “those scholars”…? Upon what Biblical grounds do they deviate from the “traditional” interpretation and understanding?

2) As we “who” understand “homosexuality” today…? The Bible is very explicit: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.” What is so nebulous about this text?! “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” The text goes on to show how strongly God feels about this issue when He, as Head of a Theocracy, declared, “they shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) In light of Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I change not”, by what authority does one understand this issue any differently than the Bible, our rule of faith and practice?

3) Integrity defined: “uprightness of character; honesty, the condition or quality of being unimpaired or sound…” These arguments do not reflect sound reasoning, but rather a desire to rationalize away that with which one disagrees or dislikes: in this case “a plain ‘thus saith the Lord.’”

We believe that in the matter of sexual orientation, where there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding, our congregations and the gospel of Jesus Christ will be well served by refraining from judgment, while showing love and acceptance to everyone who desires to worship with us, allowing all to use their God-given talents to bring glory to God. Our spiritual community can then give God’s Holy Spirit free reign to change lives as He sees fit.

1) Yes, God’s love is, and ours should be, unconditional.

2) Acceptance with God, however, is NOT unconditional, but rather conditional upon an entire surrender of the will. (RH 4/25/1899)

3) Yes, our church should have an open door policy for worship. Church is like a hospital, with room for those who bring healing as well as for those who need healing. But membership should be reserved for those who, through contrition and repentance, are willing to enter Christ’s school of discipleship, the school of transformation FROM sinful behavior, as defined in Scripture, to lives which are willing to “Cease to do evil.” The church is not to be the habitation of those “having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin” referred to as “unrighteousness”, “spots they are and blemishes.” (2 Peter 2:13,14)

4) “Give the Holy Spirit free reign to change lives as He sees fit…”? In other words, credit the Holy Spirit with the failure of one to have a genuine conversion which changes hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong. Credit the Holy Spirit with the new birth which does NOT consist in having new motives, new tastes, and new tendencies. I contend that it is the Holy Spirit’s purpose and desire to bring all to repentance. For it is written, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

We believe the same Jesus who said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” might say today in regard to this issue, “Marriage was made for humans, not humans for marriage.” We believe God wants homosexuals, as well as heterosexuals, to enjoy the many blessings of a monogamous, committed relationship - companionship, support of each other, a greater understanding of God’s love, and emotional and sexual intimacy - needs with which He created all of us.

1) “We believe…” Based upon what Biblical principle or grounds?

2) “Jesus…might say…” This is pure conjecture. We are counseled very plainly that “It is not [God’s] plan that His people shall present something which they have to suppose, which is not taught in the Word. …’What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ This is the all-important question, and it has been clearly answered. ‘What is written in the law? how readest thou?’” (MS 26, 1901)

3) “Marriage for humans…” There is no Scriptural basis whatsoever for this preposterous conclusion.

“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation (from sin…); [in the Scriptures] are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:14-16)